Downton Abbey bosses have announced that every episode (apart from the 90 minute series opener) of series three will be 15 minutes shorter than those of the second series, making them an hour in length.
Yet ITV have moved quickly to deny accusations that the move has been made in the wake of complaints over the amount of adverts during the period drama this autumn.
Viewers enjoyed 90 minute episodes at the beginning and end of the recent run, with six 75 minute episodes in between – although critics would argue that the amount of actual drama in that run-time far less than it should have been. But on top of excessive ad breaks, audiences also complained about the Aviva ‘mini-dramas’, which were quite frankly, rubbish.
A spokesman refused to blame the complaints for the move and explained that it had been an ‘editorial decision’ while pointing to the successful first series, which operated on the same running format as the third will.
ITV chief executive admitted that the Aviva ads ‘didn’t quite work’ and that they added to the perception of Downton being ad heavy. But he also went on to explain that the ‘psychological’ effect of a 75 minute episode and the amount of advertising in it was the thing that annoyed people.
“Viewers are used to sitting through an hour-long episode with four ad breaks” he said at a recent Broadcasting Press Guild lunch.